“Good and positive always outweigh the bad,” said Dr. Stephanie Southworth to our students on November 20th. Dr. Southworth, a Coastal Carolina University sociology professor, came to speak to us on her new program to help the homeless in Myrtle Beach get transportation to jobs and affordable housing.
Dr. Southworth grew up in a middle-class family in California. While raising her own family and getting her master’s and PhD in social behaviors, she never knew the true need of homeless people. It was not until Dr. Southworth moved to SC and did an experiment with her students that she truly understood. She had her students ask homeless people what they needed the most. Most people told them that they really needed transportation and mental health care. This sparked an idea for Dr. Southworth. She started a program at a men’s homeless shelter allowing residents to use bikes for transportation.
Dr. Southworth explained, “These bikes are just like library books. You can rent them out then bring them back for others to enjoy.” This project is in its second year of operation and is doing extremely well, helping the homeless as well as her students volunteers, the faculty, and shelter workers. One student asked her how they can trust the homeless people to bring the bikes back. Dr. Southworth’s answered, “We can’t! We just have to trust and the more experience that we have with them the more trust is built.” One experience that Dr. Southworth highlighted was a former homeless shelter resident who came up to her and said “Bike 49 saved my life. When I got frustrated or mad, I could use the bike to get away from here.”
We truly thank Dr. Stephanie Southworth for taking the time to educate our students on the importance of helping your community and doing something to benefit others.